Blue Water Development was in talks with the state of West Virginia as early as 2021 to open up Cacapon State Park to a large RV park development in the popular Civilian Conservation Corps park in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
That’s according to state documents obtained by Morgan County USA.
In one email dated September 28, 2021, Jim Christie of Civil & Environmental Consultants, writes to Steven McDaniel, who at the time was head of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Attached is a draft concept for the RV Park at Cacapon we did for Bluewater (Blue Water),” Christie writes. “They wanted us to pass it along to you and see if this area still works and what the next steps would be. Feel free to call and discuss.”
The draft concept was for an RV park with more than 300 sites behind the Nature Center at Cacapon State Park.
Another email is dated August 23, 2022 from Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby to Carl Kruelle of Blue Water and Jason Pizatella, an attorney at Spilman Thomas & Battle in Charleston, West Virginia.
In the email, Ruby introduces Kruelle and Pizatella to “a few new players on our State Parks team” – including Commerce Secretary James Bailey, the new head of DNR Brett McMillion and the chief of State Parks Brad Reed.
“All three are very supportive of additional private-public partnerships within our parks system,” Ruby writes.
“We appreciate your continued partnership and look forward to catching up,” Ruby writes to Kruelle and Pizatella.
Kruelle is chief investment officer at Blue Water.
In announcing his arrival at the company in June 2021, Blue Water said that “Kruelle will manage all aspects of Blue Water’s investments.”
“This will not only involve continuously assessing and analyzing the performance of the 21 properties that the company currently owns or manages – plus 7 RV resorts and 4 hotels under development – but also supporting its strategic growth in the outdoor hospitality sector as a whole – with a particular focus on its rapid geographic expansion,” Blue Water said in a press statement.
Pizatella is a former deputy chief of staff for West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and is currently the CEO of the Contractors Association of West Virginia and a registered lobbyist in Charleston.
Delegate George Miller (R-Morgan County) told a gathering of citizens at the Cacapon State Park upper lake on April 3, 2023 that the Blue Water proposal couldn’t have been made without the legislature passing HB 4408, the law that was passed in March 2022 to enable private corporations like Blue Water to develop public state parks like Cacapon.
Was HB 4408 passed so that this 350 RV park could go in at Cacapon?
“I don’t know for sure, but it sure as hell looks like it,” Miller said.
Miller said that he “screwed up” by initially supporting HB 4408 before eventually changing his mind and voting against the bill.
When the state issued the request for proposal in December 2022, West Virginia Parks Chief Brad Reed warned his staff not to discuss the controversial proposal in writing.
“I anticipate quite a few inquiries about this considering the interest in legislation last year which enabled,” Reed wrote in an email on December 16, 2022. “As all of this is public record – I want no chatter about it back and forth in emails, texts, etc. If someone feels a need to discuss, see me or (Deputy Chief) Paul (Redford).”